High Quality vs Low Quality Backlinks – What’s the difference and why should you care?

What’s the difference between high-quality and low-quality backlinks?

In this discussion, we’ll be primarily focusing on off-page SEO or backlinks – why you want em, where to get em, and why they are so valuable.

Backlinks are seen as one of the most powerful ways to rank a site.  

Why? Because Google and other search engines see backlinks as referrals to your site.  The quality of the traffic you receive will depend on the strength of the backlink – and on the quality of the article where the backlink appears.

Since we specialize in high-quality backlinks and we’re here to tell you that not all backlinks are the same.

Search engines have adapted their algorithms to look at links in a number of different ways. This allows them to narrow in on the ability of the link or page to answer the search query.

So what makes a high-quality link? The first thing that we need to do is to find out how search engines use links.

How Search Engines Use Links

Search engines use links that are pointing to a webpage to discover that the page exists and also to determine what information the page holds.

Bing states:

“Bing prefers to see links built organically. This essentially means the links are built by people linking to your content because they find value in your content. This is an important signal to a search engine because it is seen as a vote of confidence in the content.”

So, why are links so valuable?

Because search engines look at them as votes for your site.  It’s like someone in the universe saying “Hey – check out this site here, it’s pretty cool.”

And as logic will dictate, a link from a site with a lot of visitors will bring you more traffic than a site with fewer visitors. This brings us to the discussion of authority.


Say for example you receive a link to your site from an article that appeared on CNN.  The CNN site receives millions and millions of visitors each day. The domain authority on the CNN site is XX, meaning the site has high authority. Now think of the amount of traffic you’ll receive you’ll receive from The Billings Montana Gazette. The traffic to the site is much lower, so you’ll receive less traffic.

An authoritative web page linking to your page can be a strong signal that it is itself an authoritative source.

Simply put, an authoritative site (or an authority site) is a site that has authority over a subject or upon various topics.

Search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo look at the site’s backlinks to determine expertise and trustworthiness.  


The relevance of the information on a page is also important.

Let’s say you’re traveling to Dallas and are looking for the best place to stay. You might research “hotels in Dallas”.

The search will give you relevant results. You won’t find listings from community groups discussing their travel plans. Instead, you receive information relevant to your searches, such as travel booking sites for hotel rooms such as Travelocity or Expedia.

Look for Links that have Both Authority and Relevance

The best link to look for is one that will provide both authority and relevance to your site.

Low quality links are irrelevant and provide no authority for your site. 

These links are easy to create – you can simply place a link in the comments section of any discussion on the internet and ta – da – you have a low quality backlink. This kind of link is usually irrelevant to the discussion, is spam, and adds no value. We’ve all seen them.

These kinds of links are useless and provide no value to your site. They can actually work against you if you have too many spammy backlinks to your site. They ruin your authority.

Google has very strict guidelines on manipulative links.  

Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (LINK  https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/guidelines/webmaster-guidelines). This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site. 

Paid Links

Paying for links to increase your site traffic is obviously against Google guidelines. If Google figures out that you’ve purchased links from a site that sells low quality links, you may discover that the webpage is penalized by Google. So it’s important to be careful.

In these instances, Google recommends that webmasters declare the links to be sponsored using the rel=”sponsored” attribute.

This indicates to Googlebots that the link is one that has been paid for and is not to be used for calculating PageRank.

High Quality Links – The Holy Grail of Link Building

High quality backlinks are hard to find and they are very labor-intensive. Yet, they should be part of your overall SEO strategy.

High quality backlinks last. High quality articles about your product or service can provide long-lasting, continuous traffic. These are reviews and articles about your products or services that provide information to the consumer while linking back to your site.

We think it’s important to have a variety of links as it presents a more natural appearance to the search engines.

 Medium Quality Links – Create your own

You can create your own medium quality links if you want. Create links from your social media accounts to your popular web pages by writing compelling posts. Directory sites are another alternative. Typically these sites offer only one kind of service – and that is to advertise your site here. Verify your local business address on Yelp. Add your website to blog comments. Easy, cheap and simple.

Be careful – High Quality, High Authority but Low Relevancy

It’s difficult to get links on high authority sites. High quality sites may also not provide the relevancy that you’re looking for. Sure, they may have the traffic, but can they provide relevant traffic to your site.  

Take CNN again for example. While they provide high quality content, if my business is a New York pizza shop, the site provides no relevance for me. I’d be better off focusing my SEO efforts on local marketing and getting referrals from local reviews.


A wide and varied link profile is good for SEO.

If you are actively looking to increase links to your site in an organic manner, it’s imperative you know how to generate high-quality links.

Don’t waste your time going for easy links on unrelated and low-quality sites.

Instead, focus your energy and budget on creating truly newsworthy content and bringing it to the attention of authoritative, high quality and relevant publishers.